How to Hire a Bid Manager

  • February 23, 2017
  • by Ben Hannon

Hiring can be a tricky business. Someone has either left your team and needs replacing, or you are in the positive situation of expanding the business. Hiring the right person for your team is critical and when you are looking for a new Bid Manager to join your team, there are number of aspects you must consider.

This hiring guide will provide you with an overview of just some of the points to consider when selecting the next member of your team.

Know what you need

It's important to have a clear understanding of what you need from the outset. Take the time to assess the skills of your existing team, think about what you have and what you need.

Do you need a Bid Manager or a Proposal Manager? What’s the difference? It’s one of the biggest questions in our industry and a common reason for new starters not working out – get it wrong and you’ve placed a square peg in a round hole. Here's a guide to the difference between the two

If you are expanding your bid team, think about what skills will complement the existing talent in your team. If you are replacing someone who has left, think about what was most important about their role, bearing in mind you probably won’t find a like-for-like replacement. Have a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘must not haves’ – this will help in your selection process. In addition to what you need now, be sure to think about what you will need in 12 months’ time – perhaps more commercial or technical skills? Use the opportunity to future-proof your team.

Take the time to create a job description

This is a critical but often overlooked element of the hiring process. Much like you would want to see a well-written CV, candidates will react well to a detailed job description. The more information they have will ensure they know what they are applying for. This will result in more relevant applications. If you don’t know where to start, our website has a selection of job descriptions for you to review. Take a look at common bid team job descriptions 

Quirky internal naming conventions are fine for people that are in-house but you could miss out on applications because jobseekers won’t click on your advert, or you won’t be captured in their job board alert system. Keep it simple for external adverts. You can always reveal your internal job title at interview stage.

Money talks

Ensure your salary range is competitive compared to the market. Make sure it is sufficient to attract the best talent, if that’s what you are seeking. Don’t judge this purely against what competing organisations are offering – they may be struggling to hire themselves! The Salary Benchmarking section on our website can help with this. Take a look at bid team salary benchmarks (note that these are for UK teams).

If someone has left your team and secured a big pay rise in the process, consider that you may have been underpaying them. Be aware that you might not secure the same calibre of candidate with your offered salary – they left because they felt they were worth more.

Also, if you hired someone on £X in 2012, inflation and time dictates that you won’t find your desired candidate for the same money. You must either move with the times to remain competitive, or adjust your expectations as to who you can hire.

The interview process

Map this out at the very start. Think about what you need to know from candidates in order to make a decision. Do you need someone that can write content? If so, it would be wise to incorporate a written assessment to judge their skills.

Be open about what you can offer. If you can’t offer progression with the role, don’t say you can. It will only result in you needing to look for another candidate in the near future once the truth is out. To combat this, let the candidates ask you some tough questions too. It’s an ‘inter’-view after all.

It is always useful to get a second opinion, so think about who else you can get involved to meet with candidates. This has to be someone whose opinion you trust, otherwise there is no point. On the flip side, don’t involve the whole company as this will be overbearing for candidates – not to mention the logistical nightmare of coordinating diaries…

Know your decision criteria and process prior to arranging the first interview. Chopping and changing will lead to frustration and you may realise after 3 months of recruiting that you have already rejected the ideal candidate.

Don’t make the interview process overly long – you will miss out on candidates to companies that have a more efficient selection process. 3 stages should be enough to make a decision. Any more than this could cause unnecessary delays and put a drain on your resource. Time is money after all and too many cooks and opinions will often lead to stalemate.

Reference checking

You’ve made your decision and found your ideal candidate. You have offered them the position and they have accepted. This is great news but you’re not over the finish line just yet. A full reference check is vital and will give you peace of mind that you have made the right decision. You will need to obtain consent from your chosen candidate to contact their referees and you must only ask employment-related questions. More information on reference checking and a sample list of questions can be found here: http://bidsolutions.co.uk/clients/hiring-guide/references/

First day and beyond

You’ve finally made it. Your new Bid Manager has walked through the door and is ready to get stuck in. Be sure to stay close to them during their first month. Ensure that they are settling in, developing the relationships they need and are enjoying their work. Provide feedback on their performance, so they know if there is anything they can improve, or anything that will help them settle in. Be sure to get their feedback too – it’s important to know if you can be doing anything better too.

Development plans are often overlooked. In the 2015 Salary Survey, 48% of respondents had no personal development plan in place and only 25% had attended a training course in the previous year. You should be putting in place a development plan for your new employee from day one. This is not just about employee satisfaction but also about future-proofing your team with skills they might not have.

In summary

Hiring is not an exact science and gut feeling will come into it at some stage, particularly if you are going to be working with this person on a daily basis. You will need to strike a balance between skills and attitude. That being said, much like any bid, the better you plan at the outset, the better chance you have reaching a successful conclusion.

Learn more

Visit www.bidsolutions.co.uk to learn more about the services Ben and the team can offer.

If you'd like to learn more about the state of the bid industry, including the challenges they face, please download our 2016/2017 survey report:

Download the report


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